Then Jon called to tell me the news that Brian Cashman signed closer Rafael Soriano for three years. Wait a minute here. It was only a week ago that Cash made this big pronouncement to the Journal-News' Chad Jennings, announcing that the Yanks would not sign Soriano -- or any other Type A free agent not named Cliff Lee:
Essentially taking himself out of the running for Rafael Soriano, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said this afternoon that he absolutely will not make a move that costs the Yankees their top draft pick.Talk about famous last words! Not that I'm objecting to Cash changing his tune here. This is a win-now team. I think getting Soriano is a great move, between Mariano being no spring chicken, Joba no longer being Joba, Kerry Wood being in Chicago, and Dave Robertson being a disaster in the playoffs. (Although I'm not that crazy about some of the terms in the contract itself -- more on that in a sec.)
“I will not lose our No. 1 draft pick,” Cashman said. “I would have for Cliff Lee. I won’t lose our No. 1 draft pick for anyone else.”
Sure, the Yankees still need a starter -- make that starters -- but picking up Soriano, Tampa Bay's former closer who led the league in saves last year, makes a lot of sense. Worrying about saving the 31st pick in the draft, when even a successful pick won't be able to help this team for at least five years, made zero sense.
It boggles my mind, though, why Cash would make such a ridiculous pronouncement in the first place, then go back on it a week later. What could possibly have been the negotiating strategy behind it?
Not to mention the contract itself that he gave Soriano. Scott Boras definitely has his groove back. Last week, he told ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand that his client would be open to being the setup man for the Yankees. It was looking for a sec like Boras was desperate to get his client any job, given that it's already January, and other teams didn't want to give up the draft pick for Soriano. Then Cash made his pronouncement, essentially agreeing that Soriano wasn't worth the draft pick.
Now, not only has Cashman completely changed his tune, but he has made Soriano the highest-paid setup man in baseball, and the third-highest-paid reliever in the game, according to Buster Olney (Mariano is No. 1.) Boras wins again!
And that's not all. Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk writes:
As was reported all over the place, the contract calls for Soriano to make $10 million this season, $11 million in 2012 and $14 million in 2013. But the final two years are player options, which means that Soriano can opt-out after this season. Or after 2012. This is savvy because there’s a non-trivial chance that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will do away with free agent compensation picks heading into 2012, and Soriano’s status as a Type-A was probably the biggest thing hindering his marketability this year. No one wants to give up a first round pick if they don’t have to.Boras is something else, isn't he? I am all for the signing itself, but I don't get the opt-out clauses. Given that they are not mutual, how do they possibly benefit the Yankees?
And please, I don't want to hear about how smart and clever Cash is as GM. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. He has exactly one instrument in the ol' toolbox -- the ability to spend a lot of money. Don't get me wrong -- I'm all for signing Soriano. But those dopey opt-out clauses don't help anybody but Soriano and Boras.
What do you think? Tell us about it!